Venue: Loxley House, Station Street, Nottingham, NG2 3NG
Contact: Mark Leavesley Email: email@example.com
Appointment of Vice-Chair
Resolved to appoint Councillor Maria Joannou as Vice-Chair for the municipal year 2022/23.
At this point, in the absence of Councillor Barnard, Councillor Joannou assumed the Chair for the meeting.
Apologies for absence
Councillor Barnard - leave
Councillor Hayes - unspecified
Councillor Jackson - personal
Councillor Rule - work
Declarations of Interests
In the interests of transparency, Councillor Power declared that she is employed by The Children’s Society as its Local Public Affairs Manager.
This did not preclude her from taking part in discussion or voting on any item on the agenda.
Last meeting held on 21 March 2022 (for confirmation)
The Board agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 21 March 2022 as a correct record and they were signed by the Chair presiding at the meeting.
Presentation by Su Turner
Mary-Anne Cosgrove, Head of Children in Care, Care Leavers and Regulated Services, updated the Board on a recent LGA Corporate Parenting Board Peer Review, which was part of a wider package of support to develop the effectiveness of the Corporate Parenting Board.
Ms Cosgrove stated the following:
(i) the package included:
- peer interviews with key officers and Councillors to understand the approach to corporate parenting;
- a Corporate Parenting Board observation - which took place in January 2022;
- development of key areas and aspects for improvement;
- a bespoke development programme for the Corporate Parenting Board;
(ii) the review, undertaken during 5 days in April 2022, was based on national Corporate Parenting Principles, was not an inspection, rather the Peer team (which included Councillor Antoinette Bramble, Hackney Council, and Su Turner, independent Governance Specialist) were invited in as ‘critical friends’, and the information was confidential and non-attributable;
(iii) the peer diagnostic considered the following themes:
- health and wellbeing of children in care and care leavers;
- the voice of children in care and care leavers;
- aspiration and achievement;
- quality, planning, stability and permanence;
- care leavers and transition;
- Governance and Board effectiveness;
(iv) the Review highlighted strengths, such as:
- there appeared to be a commitment across the council to corporate parenting, and an increased understanding of what that means by those not working in children’s services;
- there was a strong culture of focusing on the child, and the Corporate Parenting Board was keen to examine ways to effectively engage with children in care and care leavers;
- recent interventions had seen improvements to services for children in care and care leavers;
- the Corporate Parenting Board met 6 times per year, and members are committed to attending and asking questions;
- key partner were now attending Corporate Parenting Board meetings;
(v) the review did, however, highlight some areas for consideration, such as:
- whilst commitment to children in care and care leavers was voiced by all interviewed, there did not seem to be a single coherent aspiration or vision that could be articulated, and the council’s pledge or promises to the children was not mentioned by most in the interviews;
- the Corporate Parenting Board met in public, which was quite unusual. This can stifle board discussions and deeper conversations regarding key aspects of services for children in care and care leavers. It also prevented those children in care who wished to attend from doing so, and meant holding a separate private meeting;
- the reviewers felt that whilst the council had made improvements to services for children in care and care leavers, it felt that these had been done in silos, and the Corporate Parenting Board could act as the bridge to improve services;
- the Corporate Parenting Board appeared to operate as a scrutiny committee, and whilst key members championed the needs of children in care, this leadership dynamic could be enhanced;
- membership of the Corporate Parenting Board was unclear. Partners attended, but were unsure of their role;
- meetings were dominated by lengthy reports and presentations from officers. Whilst there was good agenda management by the Chair; reports and presentations could prevent important discussions;
- the Board was keen to hear the voices of children, however this needed to be explored carefully, and the Board adopting a variety of means, not just children in care and care leavers attending board meetings;
(vi) in light of the above, it was proposed that the following development sessions were held:
- CPB1: a session specifically for the Corporate Parenting Board that focussed on leveling understanding of corporate parenting and how they can be the champions for children;
- CPB2: a session specifically for the Corporate Parenting Board focussed on how to listen effectively to the voices of children, and how the work programme can be developed to support this;
- All City Councillors: a development session for the whole council and senior managers that focussed specifically on what corporate parenting was and how they can all be effective corporate parents.
During discussion, the following comments were made:
- the children needed to be more involved in compilation of ‘Pledges’, and the pledges need to be more specific so that they can be monitored;
- the ‘care leaver offers’ needed to be more visible/accessible on the website;
- all council departments should have a representative at Corporate Parenting Board meetings;
- there seemed to be a crossover between Corporate Parenting Board and children’s scrutiny.
Report of Director of Children’s Integrated Services
Treza Mann, Service Manager, Children in Care / Leaving Care Services, and Audrey Taylor, Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption, presented the report, which updated the Board on the Q4 2021/22 performance data for children in care and leaving care.
During discussion, the following was stated:
- due to recruitment and retention issues in regards to Children’s Social Workers, some children do not have a single-point contact;
- Pathway Plan (95% target) – Children in Care has seen a drop from 90% in March 2021 to 79% in March 2022 of children eligible for a Pathway Plan having had a plan authorised during the last 6 months. Care leavers with an authorised plan has seen a drop from 92% in March 2021 to 82.2% in March 2022, the narrative for that being high levels of long-term sickness, staff moving on to other employment and vacancies within the team. Now that the staff team are on full form, the figure will increase as staff start to progress Pathway Plans with Carer Leavers.
- Personal Education Plans (PEP) compliance - PEP performance for the Spring 2022 term was 86%, this being a slight drop from the previous term’s 88% (although that was a marked improvement from the status of PEP compliance prior to them becoming electronic updates).
Resolved that the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee be requested to consider:
(i) recruitment and retention in respect of children’s Social Workers;
(ii) Pathway Plan and Personal Education Plan compliance.
Report of Corporate Director for People
Lorraine Sudlow, Project Manager, Barnardos Central Region, presented the report and gave a presentation to the Board (a copy of the slides for which are appended to these minutes).
The Board stated that the collaboration with Barnardos was working well and all members wished for it to continue.
To note / suggest future items
The Board noted the work plan, and added an item in respect of the Adoption Service to the January 2023 meeting.
Dates of future meetings
To agree to meet at Loxley House at 2.00pm on the following Mondays:
18 July 16 January
19 September 20 March
The Board agreed to meet at 2.00pm at Loxley House on the following Mondays: